Redefine “having it all”…guest blogger Chris King

As Bella DePaulo says in the last post, having it all might just mean changing your lifestyle to one that accommodates your dreams and wishes—working just enough to pay the bills with plenty of time left over to pursue all the things you love. Today we’ve got Chris King—reigning queen of what she calls the “portfolio career”—a way to make a living that sounds a lot like what Dr. DePaulo describes.

I’ve known Chris King for a couple of decades—and we’ve run into each other in various pockets of our portfolio careers. And as a long-time single-again woman, she’s been an ardent supporter of SWWAN since its inception in 2006. Thanks, Chris.

I know one single mom who flatly rejected the idea of this portfolio idea—a.k.a. self-employment—and then the universe handed her an opportunity she couldn’t refuse. I suspect she will never go back now. So open your mind. If you’ve always had a full-time job (especially one that you hated going to), suspend your belief system about what it means to support yourself and listen along as Chris describes the joys and challenges of the portfolio life.

How to Work Full Time – Part Time … and Love Every Minute
by Chris King

It is believed by career forecasters that before long people who work one full-time job will be in the minority. As management guru Peter Drucker put it, “Corporations once built to last like pyramids are now more like tents – You can’t design your life around a temporary structure.” If you are already a free agent, independent professional, and freelancer, you may already have what I call a “Portfolio Career” – having many different careers rolled into one. In this article I am going to discuss “Portfolio Careers” – what they are, the pros and cons, where to find one, and when to start building one.

What is a “Portfolio Career”? To become a portfolio person, we must stop thinking in terms of having or not having a job. We need to take control of our life, make flexibility our credo, and develop a portfolio of different items, but with a theme. Rather than working for one company, you take on various projects and cultivate several clients. A successful “Portfolio Career” fits together bits of work in our life to form a balanced whole. There are different possibilities and different types of Portfolio Careers which include:

  • Working as an independent contractor for a specified length of time. And, then on to another career!
  • Working full time in one career, and adding on another or more part time careers.
  • Having a variety of part time careers.

Why have a “Portfolio Career”? The pros and cons. I tend to be a bit biased in this area because I have pursued a Portfolio Career for more than eighteen years and love it. During that time I have had as many as nine and as few as three different careers in my portfolio at a time. The pros in my case are the flexibility (one of my strongest values), the variety of working on many different tasks, being able to pursue careers that I love – but don’t pay enough to do full-time, the excitement that accompanies change and taking risks, and having creative control over my future – if I stop loving a career, I can quit because I have enough other careers to sustain me.

The cons are what every free agent, independent professional, and freelancer face: a lack of the stability afforded by a full-time job, paycheck, and benefits; feast and famine – being so busy it is overwhelming to having no set project lined up; having to deal with constant change and continual marketing and networking; and hearing friends and family say, “When are you going to get a real job?”

Where do I find or search for the careers to fill my “Portfolio”? I feel that when we are desperately looking for a career, it is hard to find. But once we have one or two and are exhibiting an attitude and appearance of confidence and professionalism, new career opportunities pop up continually. We just need to be flexible and confident about trying new careers. Areas of opportunity are all around us! Questions to ask yourself are:

  • If employed presently, what part time tasks are now hired out to independent contractors? What would I like to do or learn to do?
  • Is there an idea or ideas that I have for a home-based business, but have felt would not support me full time?
  • What skills and talents do I have that others would pay for?
  • What career(s) would I like to try, if I knew that I wouldn’t have to do it (them) forever or on a full-time basis?

When should I start a “Portfolio Career”? I suggest starting a Portfolio Career the minute you have any dissatisfaction with your present work life (or lack of work life), the minute someone offers you an opportunity (either for pay or for volunteer) that sounds interesting or fascinating, or when there are several career areas you would like to investigate. I don’t suggest taking on many different careers at the same time. My Portfolio Career has grown to include nine different careers over the years (adding and subtracting as a reasonable pace). The key to making the portfolio life work is planning, knowing what you are good at and being able to take risks. (This takes courage and healthy self-esteem.) Fill in any missing parts by volunteering, trying out new areas, taking classes, listening to tapes, researching and being honest with yourself.

To take The ‘Portfolio Career’ Self Test – or Am I Someone Who Would Love to Have One? click HERE

If you have questions or comments, please send me your FEEDBACK. And, if you already have a “Portfolio Career” I would love to read your story.

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Can You Be Single and Have it All? Guest Post by Bella DePaulo

Seal Rocks
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If you want to learn about all the ways our society discriminates against single people, read Bella DePaulo’s work. She’s a Harvard PhD who pulls no punches calling out even high-flying groups like the American Psychological Association for their subtle “singlism” in language and attitude. She serves as a beacon for helping us do the consciousness-raising we all have to do before we get to the point where, as Morgan Freeman says “no need to say you’re proud to be black” and Dr. Karen Gail says in the previous post “no need to be proud you’re single,” we don’t have to say anything or prove anything to anybody about our life position.

With that, have at it, Bella…


When Barbara Payne asked me if I had a favorite life-changing moment as a single person, I immediately knew the story I wanted to tell. In fact, I had already written about it in my book, Singled Out. It was  the opening to the chapter in which I make fun of the stereotype that people who are single don’t have a life. Here it is (from p. 185):

After I moved from the East Coast to the West, there was a time when I knew I wanted to stay out West, but was not yet sure whether I could make that happen. Would I be able to sell my home in Virginia? Would anyone hire me for only as many hours as it took to pay my bills, so I could devote the rest of my time, and all of my heart and soul, to the study of singles? What about all the rest of it – would it all work out? Then one day, I got a phone call, and I knew that it had happened. I hung up and sat in quiet stunned amazement for a moment. Then I thought to myself, “I can have it all.”

It took a second for me to realize just how bizarre that thought was – at least by the prevailing standards. Here I was, stepping into a life in which I had no husband, no children, no full-time job, and for the first time in more than a decade, no home that I owned. Yet to me, I was about to have it all.

I doubt that I would have thought of my life that way many years before. I loved my friends, my family, my job, and my home, but I would not have spontaneously appropriated a cultural catch-phrase, nor refashioned it so thoroughly.

Years have passed since I wrote those words. I still have no husband, no children, no full-time job, and no home that I own. I could hardly be happier. I’ve made new friends and kept the old. I work as many hours as it takes to pay the bills (plus the time it takes to find the next opportunity that pays), then I passionately pursue my thinking and research and writing about single life.

I used to save up my money every year to spend a week or so at the beach. Now I live at the beach. Yes, I’m renting, but I can walk out my front door and have my toes in the Pacific Ocean in ten minutes. Or I can walk the many and varied trails. Or I can drive a few miles and pick up fruits and vegetables at the farmers market; my favorites sit colorfully and boastfully next to a hand-written sign that says “picked this morning.” I’d still love to see more of the friends and family who remain out East, but it is not hard to persuade people to visit me in the tiny town that is so aptly named Summerland.

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard) is the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After and of Single with Attitude: Not Your Typical Take on Health and Happiness, Love and Money, Marriage and Friendship. She writes the “Living Single” blog for Psychology Today and also blogs at Bella DePaulo’s blog. Visit her website at www.BellaDePaulo.com.

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A “Single Working Women’s Week” meditation

It’s a candle kind of morning. Dawn came gray, then suddenly lit by a strange light, then darkened with heavy layers of cloud. I love the morning. So peaceful. So full of possibility…

Started reading The Artist’s Way last week. It’s a book that’s been calling to me for years, since I first heard someone talking about it. It’s a book that—should you accept this mission—forces you to think. About things you may not have wanted to think. About things you may not have bothered to think much—like what do you  really want to do  with your life? Things like what did you like and what didn’t you like about your childhood…stuff that you may have already—if you’re over 50 like me—thought enough about, thank you, and have no desire to revisit.

Rebel Yell
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rohit Chhiber

An interesting exercise. List five lives you would have liked to have led if you didn’t lead the one you have. My list came fairly easily—rock singer, motivational speaker, painter, biologist/physicist, lawyer. Then the next part asks what can you do in your life to honor that part of yourself? Hmmm.

I realized that I’ve unwittingly been doing something significant during my present life to include some aspect of all those other dream lives. It was a curiously gratifying feeling.

Rock singer – For thirty years I’ve been known as the “crazy lady in the back who sings” in the aerobics-to-music class. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to sing and “dance” that way.

Motivational speaker – I’ve been been invited to do many presentations over the years of my career. For each one I’ve always done my best to inject my passion about the subject and my wish to share important information. Takes a lot of work, can be a little nerve-wracking (depending on the audience), but it’s a powerfully satisfying feeling when I know I’ve reached the minds and/or hearts of those to whom I speak.

Painter – I loved to draw when I was a child. I dreamed of being an artist, but my parents firmly discouraged me and suggested something sensible for making a living. While I was married and raising my kids, I was fortunate to be able to study drawing and watercolor painting. Talk about a lot of work! Talk about nerve-wracking—having my first one-woman show was the most frightening and exhausting experience of my life. Even though I am an excellent salesperson, I’m much better at selling other people’s stuff. It’s weird when it’s your own work out there. Anyway, I’m happy to say I sold many of my paintings, and I’m pleased to say I still have a few on my own walls.

Biologist/physicist – I had an immensely inspiring nun teach me sophomore biology. She was a powerful example of a single woman who wasn’t afraid to exercise her individuality. How she got away with it as one in the order of nuns of  the Blessed Virgin Mary that taught us is beyond me. Suffice it to say, when I got to my first college biology class, I realized this was going to be way too much work. Still I read voraciously about pscyhology and metaphysics, and then branched into actual physics for the layman. I am passionate about the subject. And 30 years after that failed biology class, I became involved in writing to the Cleveland Clinic development department, and the flame of my interest was rekindled. I started writing a blog about bioscience, BioMedNews.org.

Lawyer – Ah, this one’s tricky. My very first job out of high school was as a legal secretary for the second largest patent law firm in the city of Chicago at the time. I loved the whole “lawyer” thing, loved their intelligence, their command of the English language. What I didn’t like was the way they seemed to view me as a second-class person, not worth their time or attention. I had come out of an all-girls Catholic high school where you were judged on your performance alone. By the way, it’s an experience I’d still recommend for any girl who’s been held down or made to feel less important than the males in her family or who needs to get out of her own teenage hormones and focus on her work.

Anyway, I ended up marrying a law clerk who worked at the firm—we actually had arguments about the meaning and use of words. What fun for a writer and a lawyer! I adore courtroom dramas (think I’ve seen every passable one ever made). And I write medical-issue-related blogs for a wonderful public-service-spirited attorney. Writing Mesothelioma-Advice.org lets me exercise my understanding of using language properly in a legal context. All interstingly gratifying exercises for my legal tendencies.

Now during this special holiday, Single Working Women’s Week, maybe it’s a good time to ask yourself those questions. What five lives would you like to have led if you didn’t lead the one you’re leading? And what are you doing now to honor those parts of your soul?

I hope you like your answers. And if you don’t, this is the perfect week to imagine into being some new ways to have fun with your dream lives. My way of bringing my painter back to life now is to join the Art Museum. I’ll be scheduling monthly visits with my sketchbook.

I’m wondering if being single lets us honor more of all our parts? Has it been true for you?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rohit Chhiber

Learn how mapping your life can change everything

A parking lot in Manhattan, United States with...
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Do you feel like you’re in a rut?

Last year we were privileged to have Monika Moss visit us on the SWWAN Dive radio show. Here’s a link to her session on Life Mapping—her own specially developed technique for breaking through the dailiness and getting to where you really want to go.

She’s doing a public seminar during the upcoming holiday made just for SWWANs, Single Working Women’s Week. If you’re anywhere near Cleveland and you want to change your life, here’s the info:

Life Mapping: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Path Finding
Retreat Seminar
with Monika K. Moss

August 7, 2010 10 am – 5 pm
Register here

If you feel stuck.  If you feel like you need support making this transition.
If you have forgotten what you dreamed of being when you grew up.  If you just can’t seem to figure out what is holding you back.  Come spend the day mapping your life with Monika K. Moss.

For over 20 years, Master Mapper, successful business consultant and life coach, Monika K. Moss has been making her dreams come true through this process called Life Mapping.  She has dedicated her talents to helping people transform themselves and move toward a more peaceful and enlightened way of being. Monika shares her Life Mapping process which has helped hundreds of individuals chart a map to their ideal lifestyle, enrich their lives and bring added value to their family, organizations and community.   The exercises in the book allow anyone to map a route from vision to reality. Life Mapping has guided Monika in overcoming life’s obstacles and creating a road to success, happiness and joy.  Spend the day with Monika and create a road map to your ideal life style.

This one-day retreat will guide you through the process so you leave with a clear vision, new awareness about what is getting in the way and an action plan for the next 90 days to guide you and keep you focused.

Upcoming Retreat:
The Mandala Center for the Healing Arts
114 East Park Street (Chardon Square, 44024, two doors from the library in the brown building, parking lot in front)

August 7, 2010 10 am – 5 pm
Register here

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Working mom missing her baby – what to do?

Saw a question from a new mom about how can you stand to only see your 7-week-old baby when you get home exhausted from work and he’s fussy and crying ‘til he goes to sleep.

How do you cope, indeed. I was a single mom for 11 years, and now I’m a single grandma of a single-daughter’s little girl. It’s heartbreaking to leave your baby–there’s no way around it. It never gets easy, either, though perhaps only slightly less wrenching when they’re older. The only thing you can do is try to put things in perspective. Making sure the baby is well-cared for when you’re at work is most important, and then follow the good advice of other moms for finding ways to make your time with your little one count as much as possible. Remember, you are the mom! Nobody and nothing can take that away from you.

But one of the most empowering things you can do is to think creatively about what other ways you can earn a living besides the 9 to 5 grind. Even if it means cutting back on your lifestyle, what’s it worth to have more time with your little one? Read all you can about freelancing and about alternate ways of generating revenue. Think about your talents and how you could turn them into a business to meet some unfilled need out there in the world.

It’s not that you’d be putting in a whole lot less time with your own business–but you could do it more on your own terms. Work in the evenings after the baby goes to sleep. Work during the day by paying a babysitter for a few hours a day instead of all day. If you have another income in the household, it should be easier. But even single moms can get creative this way. One single mom I know recently decided to become a real estate agent so she can have more control over her schedule.

Think with your whole soul! You’re sure to find a way out of this agonizing dilemma.

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